Tag Archives: Beyond Redemption

A Novel in Three Months

While writing The All Consuming I happened upon Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. It struck a chord in me in a way that no other book on writing had. And I’ve read my share. King talked about the need to gather momentum, to ride the wave of inspiration until the first draft of a novel was finished. He said his goal was always to finish a first draft in three months. To me, this sounded like madness.

As I contemplated attempting this madness, a few things became immediately obvious:

  • There would be no watching TV/movies during writing time.
  • There would be no playing computer games during writing time.
  • I would need a lot of coffee.

 Background

It took me a year and a half to finish the first draft of my first novel, 88. I spent two years editing and rewriting as I tried to find a publisher, and another year editing and rewriting once I’d signed a deal with Five Rivers.

My second novel, Beyond Redemption, took a year to write and another year to edit. After HARPER Voyager bought the book I spent several months working with Executive Editor, David Pomerico to further polish the manuscript.

My third novel, The All Consuming, I wrote in nine months and I was amazed. It was suddenly entirely possible I could write and edit one novel a year.


And then I read King’s book. Three months. Madness. But everything else King said rang true. Like me he write without much of a plan, allowing the novel to take him where it would. I had to try. I would write When Far-Gone Dead Return, the sequel to Beyond Redemption, in three months.

I set a goal. I did the math. Ten thousand words a week. If I did that, I would have 120,000 words in twelve weeks. Here is what the reality of that looked like…

Date Start Count
EndCount Daily Count
Jan 15, 15 3350 5797 2447
Jan 16, 15 5797 8879 3082
Jan 17, 15 8879 10525 1646
Jan 19, 15 10525 12080 1555
Jan 20, 15 12080 13763 1683
Jan 21, 15 13588 13992 404
Jan 22, 15 13992 17000 3008
Jan 23, 15 16084 20249 4165
Jan 24, 15 0
Jan 25, 15 0
Jan 26, 15 19050 21987 2937
Jan 27, 15 21799 25703 3904
Jan 28, 15 25236 28937 3701
Jan 29, 15 28669 30491 1822
Jan 30, 15 29733 32491 2758
Jan 31, 15 0
Feb 1, 15 0
Feb 2, 15 31956 35424 3468
Feb 3, 15 33943 36251 2308
Feb 4, 15 35048 37252 2204
Feb 5, 15 36881 36881 0
Feb 6, 15 36881 38733 1852
Feb 7, 15 38733 40355 1622
Feb 8, 15 0
Feb 9, 15 40355 42800 2445
Feb 10, 15 42800 45808 3008
Feb 11, 15 45415 47843 2428
Feb 12, 15 47320 49949 2629
Feb 13, 15 49308 52936 3628
Feb 14, 15 0
Feb 15, 15 0
Feb 16, 15 52173 52173 0
Feb 17, 15 52173 55718 3545
Feb 18, 15 53466 57559 4093
Feb 19, 15 0
Feb 20, 15 57559 60301 2742
Feb 21, 15 0
Feb 22, 15 0
Feb 23, 15 58596 60206 1610
Feb 24, 15 59981 61701 1720
Feb 25, 15 0
Feb 26, 15 0
Feb 27, 15 61701 64227 2526
Feb 28, 15 63170 65540 2370
Mar 1, 15 0
Mar 2, 15 65540 68654 3114
Mar 3, 15 68654 70540 1886
Mar 4, 15 70540 73893 3353
Mar 5, 15 0
Mar 6, 15 73893 76393 2500
Mar 7, 15 0
Mar 8, 15 0
Mar 9, 15 76393 77979 1586
Mar 10, 15 77979 78039 60
Mar 11, 15 78306 81616 3310
Mar 12, 15 81616 81783 167
Mar 13, 15 81783 86590 4807
Mar 14, 15 0
Mar 15, 15 0
Mar 16, 15 85988 90003 4015
Mar 17, 15 87987 91620 3633
Mar 18, 15 90641 94567 3926
Mar 19, 15 94567 96104 1537
Mar 20, 15 93550 98306 4756
Mar 21, 15 0
Mar 22, 15 98306 98319 13
Mar 23, 15 98319 103197 4878
Mar 24, 15 102076 107748 5672
Mar 25, 15 106075 108499 2424

You’ll note it’s a tad shy of 120,000 words, but that I finished in ten weeks instead of twelve. There remain some descriptions and scenes to flesh out a bit (I call that editing, not first draft writing) and I’ll probably write a ‘What has Gone Before’ for folks who haven’t read Beyond Redemption recently. I will also write an Epilogue.

If you really have an eye for detail and actually studied the above chart you will have noticed that some days started with a lower word count than the previous day ended. This is because for this novel I sketched out a rough guideline for the upcoming few chapters before writing them. I planned, but never more than three or four chapters (and this is a ~36 chapter novel) in advance. I wrote over my notes, and deleted them after tallying my daily count. My actual total word count for those twelve months: 121,772.

For the most part I wrote Monday through Friday and weekends were for my family. The odd time they left me home alone, I dashed for the office to squeeze a few words in. During the week the earliest I could start was often 9am, and I rarely was able to write later than 4pm.

Did I hold down a real job while doing this? Uh…no, not really.

Am I happy? Oh fuck yes.